you are what you eat
Your body is nearly two thirds water, and keeping well hydrated this Ramadan will ensure you stay healthy and ensure you make the most of this blessed month! But, what does it mean to stay well hydrated? Do fizzy drinks, juices and tea/ coffee count as fluid? Is 1 glass of fluid post Iftaar enough? Read on to find out more…
Why is Fluid is essential?
Water has many important roles in the body. We all know about flushing waste products (sodium, potassium and urea) out of the body through the kidneys. And by doing this, water and other fluids help to move nutrients and waste products through the body and out through urination. Other functions of fluid include normalising blood pressure, lubricating, protecting and cushioning joints and organs, controlling body temperature and one of the most important would be, to lower your risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
Water helps to moisten the mucous membranes in the body (lungs and mouth), it helps in aiding digestion thereby preventing constipation. Do you want beautiful hydrated skin? Water helps to moisturise the skin- to maintain its texture and appearance. Water carries important nutrients and oxygen to cells and serves as a shock absorber inside the eyes and spinal cord. And inside the amniotic sac, amniotic fluid around the baby is comprised of mostly water. So many important functions of water and fluid!
If you are fasting in cold weather or hot weather, drinking enough is very important. Fasting in cold weather does not mean water is not important!
Dehydration means losing more water than you have taken in. Some signs of dehydration include:
– Dry, cracked lips and a dry mouth
– Flushed skin
– Headache/ lethargy/ feeling weak/ tired and irritable
– Dizziness/ fainting/ confusion and even hallucinations
– Dark yellow, strong smelling urine
– Low blood pressure and increased heart rate
How do I know I need to drink more?
There are a few ways to check if you have been drinking enough. The simplest being thirst. The body often confuses thirst for hunger, so before reaching for an extra snack after your Iftaar meal, ask yourself, Am I thirsty? If yes, then fill a bottle of water and take it with you to Taraweeh prayers. Drink whenever you can, before, during and after Taraweeh.
Check your Urine: Your urine should be a pale straw like colour. If it is dark yellow and has a strong smell, then you need to drink up! It is not easy to stay hydrated, especially if the fasts are long, and the time is rushed between eating and prayer. One good habit is to plan in advance. Keep water in the car, and ready to grab bottles in the fridge also work well. Keeping a 2 litre bottle at your side and drinking this between Iftaar and bed time not only helps to keep you hydrated but also helps you to track your water intake.
Drinking water does mean frequent visits to the loo. Do not let this hinder your water intake as flushing the kidneys and bladder also help prevent urinary tract and bladder infections! Constipation is a combination of not eating the correct food together with not drinking enough of the correct type of fluid. If you do constipate during Ramadan, check what you eat, do you include enough fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, drink enough fluid and include enough fibre in your meals.
As mentioned, dehydration can mean moodiness, dizziness and confusion. Do not confuse these symptoms with low blood sugar! Making sure you eat enough of the right type of foods and drinking enough water will help prevent changes in mood and dizziness! Dizziness especially in the elderly is dangerous, it could mean getting seriously hurt or even worse hospitalisation due to a bone or other fracture!
What counts as fluid?
Fluid does mean any liquid that is not in a gas or solid state. Drink as much as you can, when you can, the most important fluid to drink will be water! And there is a good reason for me referring to water all along. The best way to hydrate, and there is no better way to hydrate than good, clear, chilled or warm WATER! Why?
Firstly, Zam Zam water has many benefits and if you can, break your fast with a small glass of this miracle drink!
Water is naturally low fat and low in kilojoules. It does not contain any sugar which can damage teeth and it will not cause weight gain either! Other fluids like juice, tea, coffee, fizzy sodas, energy drinks and even milk do count as part of your fluid intake, but they are not without their ‘darker sides’!
Juice will give you water plus some vitamins, minerals and a little bit of fibre (if any at all) from the fruit. Home made juices and smoothies are often a better choice than the shop bought versions. Including a pureed fruit to your smoothie will also help to add fibre to your day! Juices need to be consumed within their portion size, if you do like your juice, dilute 1/2 cup juice (this is one portion size) with water or sparkling water. Because fruit juices and smoothies contain sugar (and therefore calories) and can be acidic, they can potentially harm teeth.
Fizzy sodas are great but only if they are sugar free. Fizzy drinks contribute to stomach cramps, bloating, indigestion and gas! High sugar drinks will contribute to weight gain and are not recommended for diabetics. A glass of milk or a glass of flavoured water gives you much more when compared to a high sugar drink! Drinks which are high in caffeine also promote dehydration.
Tea and Coffee drinks do contain caffeine which promote diuresis in the body. Keep Tea and Coffee to 2 cups
maximum during the fasting month. If you are a tea or coffee lover, swop regular tea for decaffeinated teas and coffee. Herbal tea is a great way to replace regular tea or coffee. There are a wide variety of infusions and flavours available!
Milk is a wonderful fluid to add to your fasting food regime. Opt for low fat or fat free versions instead of the full cream counterpart. Milk is naturally high in B-vitamins, calcium and high in protein. Milkshakes can be made using fresh or frozen fruit, low fat ice cream/ ice and low fat/ fat free milk. I always have a cup of Badaam milk at Iftaar, which is made with ground nuts, vanilla extract and ground cardamom pods. If you are fasting and breastfeeding, swop juice and high sugar soda drinks for milk, water, Badaam milk and even fresh homemade juice (stick to the portion size!). Remember, if you are breastfeeding, baby will be getting all the nutrients it needs from your milk, include nutritious foods and drinks to ensure baby gets the best it needs!
Fruit or vegetable infused water is a wonderful way to flavour water during this month! Water can be flavoured using lemon, lime or orange wedges, fresh or frozen berries, pineapple cubes and mint leaves, cucumber slices, strawberry and mint leaves. Drinking flavoured water helps to keep water ‘interesting’ especially if you battle to drink plain water.
Soups also contribute to fluid intake. Including a hot soup if you are fasting in cold weather to keep you warm, hydrated and if you have added vegetables- it will add to your fibre intake for the day!
Medication: If you are down with a cold or flu, and are taking medication. Check the ingredients label. If it contains caffeine you will need to increase your fluid intake!
How much fluid do I need:
The amount of fluid needed does vary from person to person. Factors such as if you exercise while fasting, are you fasting in hot weather, your age, and physical activity level will determine how much fluid you will need. On average most people need 10 to 12- 200ml glasses of water or other drinks per day. Let your thirst indicator, urine colour and smell and general wellbeing guide you as to how much fluid you will need. If you exercise or are fasting in hot weather, you will need more than others.
Try to get in at least 10 200ml glasses of fluid between Iftaar and Suhoor. This will amount to 2litres of fluid which will do the body so much good! Children who are fasting need to be monitored as they lose fluid much faster than adults. Offer children drinks often during the evening and encourage them to drink the right types of fluid.
I hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I have enjoyed putting it together! Remember me and my family in your Duaas!